Score another plus for statins. New research now shows that they may protect against kidney cancer.

Investigators retrospectively examined data from 483,733 veterans (mean age 61 years), of whom 1,446 (0.3%) had a primary diagnosis of renal cell carcinoma. Prior to the diagnosis, 164,441 (34%) of the veterans were taking statins.

After adjusting for age, gender, obesity, and smoking, statin use was associated with a 48% lower risk of the malignancy, the researchers reported (Urology. 2008;71:118-122). The investigators, chaired by Murali Ankem, MD, of the Overton Brooks Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Shreveport, La., observed the protective effect across different age groups and in men and women, independent of the presence of obesity and smoking.

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Previous studies have suggested that statins have anticancer activity in pancreatic, breast, bladder, and prostate cancer. And one study (Clin Cancer Res. 2004;10:8648-8655) demonstrated that statins suppress cell growth and inhibit renal cancer metastasis in mice.